By: Leanne Ely
It’s time for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe! And in honor of this most ultimate summer squash, today we’re giving it the attention it deserves. Sound good?
Zucchinis are packed with beta-carotene, potassium and B vitamins. They also provide fiber and a bit of Vitamin C, but a large zucchini contains only 16 calories!
While zucchini can be used in muffin and loaf recipes, I prefer to eat it in its pure form, simply stir fried as a simple side dish. Oh you know what else is good? Grated zucchini sautéed in olive oil and a bit of garlic with salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious and almost rice-like in texture.
This is one versatile and delicious veggie!
Now, it’s time for your Trick:
If you don’t know what to do with all that zucchini in your garden, grate it up and put it in the freezer, sealed individually in one-cup servings.
Select small to medium sized zucchini if you’re eating them for flavor. The bigger guys start to lose their taste after awhile. They’re okay for purposes like zucchini bread, but they won’t do much for you in a stir fry.
And your Recipe from our new 21 Day Knock Out!
Fried Egg and Veggie Skillet
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 pound zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
4 large eggs
COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: In a very large skillet over medium high heat, melt half the coconut oil. Add onion, pepper, and zucchini and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until tender.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in thyme.
Move the veggies to the outer edges of the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Add the remaining coconut oil. Crack eggs into the center and fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Flip eggs over and fry for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until eggs reach desired doneness.
Carefully scoop vegetables out and top with eggs. Season eggs with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
If you want more tasty recipes to help you stay on track and get ready for summer, join me on our new 21 Day Knock Out here!
By: Leanne Ely
I shared some tips with you a couple weeks ago about grilling meats but there’s more to summer barbecue season than burgers and steaks!
Why turn on the stove to cook your veggies when you have a perfectly good hot grill already prepped? Never mind the fact that grilled veggies and fruits taste like something out of Heaven — if you know how to cook them properly!
Here are some of my best produce grilling tips:
Don’t use your veggie peeler. Don’t peel your vegetables before you grill them. Another reason why you need to buy organic produce! You’ll lose the nutrients and much of the flavor if you peel your veggies before they hit the grill. You’ll also get a smokier flavor if you leave the peels on. Remember the clean fifteen list and the dirty dozen when you’re trying to decide where to invest in organic produce.
Precook. Some hardier veggies need a bit of precooking to shorten the time they must spend on the grill. These types of vegetables would include: asparagus, broccoli, beets, artichokes, parsnips, carrots, winter squash and potatoes. Steam them or blanch them until they are only slightly tender, then pat them dry and cook them on the grill. That extra step will make sure the outside and inside of those sturdy veggies are cooked evenly. Vegetables like peppers, onions, eggplant, fennel, tomatoes and summer squash can be grilled raw.
Oil them. Rub a tiny little bit of olive oil (not extra virgin) or coconut oil on your veggies before you grill them. This will help prevent them from sticking to the grill, and it will also help keep them from drying out. Just a little bit because if there’s oil dripping from the food, you’ll experience flare ups.
Soak your fruits. Before grilling fruits, try drizzling them with honey or maple syrup, or soaking them in liquor. Talk about a flavor burst! Especially if you’ll be serving grilled pineapple or pears for dessert. Yes you can grill pears! You can also grill apples, watermelon and peaches. Reach for fruit that is firm and just barely ripe for your best options in fruit grilling.
Indirect heat. When grilling fruits and veggies, you want moderately hot coals or indirect heat. You may need to move them around throughout the cooking process to make sure they cook evenly.
Stick it to them. Skewers are great tools for grilling veggies. It’s tempting to make beautiful kabobs out of meat and veggies but if you want to ensure even cooking, skewer all the same type of veggie per skewer. Cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, chunks of onion and pineapple are all wonderful cooked on skewers.
Use packets. Some veggies don’t lend themselves well to skewers or grill baskets. Peas, beans, sliced peppers, etc. For these lovely foods, try making a packet out of tin foil and cook them that way. This is also a good way to cook potatoes, or to cook other veggies with a sauce or topping of some sort.
There you have it.
Have I missed anything? Do you have anything to add?
By: Leanne Ely
One of my very favorite parts of hotter weather is the incessant use of the barbecue or grill as we call it in the South. Being able to cook everything over an open flame would be wonderful for all seasons, but for most of us, it’s confined to summer months. The key is using the grill in an understanding way so your food is always cued to perfection. So to do that, here are Five Easy Ways To Improve Your Grilling–
1—Some Like It Hot. When using a barbecue, whether it is gas or charcoal, it is imperative to preheat the grill. You cannot put the food on a cold grill and start that way for the same reasons you don’t stick food in an oven that hasn’t been preheated—it messes up the
cooking time and the way it should cook. Don’t do it!
2—Cool Tools. You just might want to check out your favorite hardware store so you can try some new fun barbecue implements. There are some wonderful grilling accessories that you just cannot live without. One is a hole-y wok. That’s right…big holes in a flat bottomed wok. I grilled the most incredible stir fried squash in one of those things. It was easy — sliced zucchini, summer squash and a little oil and garlic tossed together in the bowl got thrown into that wok and those vegetables were amazing. Think of the possibilities!
I also purchased a flat hole-y cookie sheet looking thing. That is how I cook my fish without losing it through the grill slats.
3—More Cool Tools. Don’t forget when you fire up the barby, you will be needing some good grilling tools. I use to use my kitchen spatula till the one day I burned the hair off my arm when I was turning chicken and that was enough to convince me. Use real grilling tools
and spend a few dollars on some nice ones. Lousy tools give you lousy results.
4—The Brush Off. Don’t forget to get a good wire brush to clean the grill, too. Keeping the grill immaculate will improve what you’re eating immensely. “Burning off” the old food only works to a degree—you need the brush!
5—Use Marinades. Marinades infuse themselves into foods and makes for a delicious choice for healthy cooking. Marinades also tenderize and turn even the most mundane piece of meat or poultry into something exotic and full of flavor.
To make your own marinades, remember you need these elements:
Oil: Any type will do, but I prefer a higher burning oil like sunflower or peanut oil.
Acid: You can use wine, citrus fruit or vinegar.
Seasonings: The world is wide open on this one—from your own special blend of herbs and spices to soy sauce, and everything in between.
Now go fire up that grill!
By: Leanne Ely
Regardless of how you feel about cooking, nobody wants to be a slave to the kitchen. We are all so busy these days that we need as many shortcuts as we can possibly find for getting a good home-cooked meal on the table with the minimum amount of stress!
It’s no good to find yourself at the end of a crazy day standing in front of the fridge praying for inspiration to hit as you try to figure out what to feed the hungry people in your house. (That’s the danger zone where you’re likely to pick up the phone and call for pizza, don’t do it!
Here are 7 shortcuts to help you get your evening meal under control!
1. Crock and roll. Dust off the crockpot and put it to work. This ultimate shortcut appliance can save you a ton of time on dinner prep. Assemble your crock ingredients in the crock liner the night before and refrigerate the works overnight. Then, all you need to do in the morning is plunk it in and plug it in!
2. Marinate meat before freezing. How many times have you gone to make a recipe and realized that you have to marinate the meat for several hours first? When you’re freezing your chicken, beef or pork, freeze it along with a marinade. That way, it will get good and tasty while it thaws, and you’ve saved a step. Oh, and that thaw? The new way to thaw is in a sink full of hot water—yup, it’s safe!
3. Cook more than you need. If you are cooking a meal for two, you might as well cook for four. Cooking for four? Why not cook for eight? That way, you have a double dinner!
4. Parchment paper. If you don’t already use parchment paper to line your pans before you bake or roast something in the oven, you’re working too hard on clean up! This oven-safe paper will cut your scrubbing in half! Boom!
5. Chop the veggies beforehand. Wash and cut that broccoli and cauliflower after you get it home. Same goes for making pepper strips, slicing mushrooms and peeling Brussels sprouts. Do that work all at once (or even better, put the kids to work!). Place all those veggies in zipper bags and you have grab and go veggies that you can either snack on raw or quickly steam for a side dish. Keep carrot sticks and celery sticks in a bowl of water in the fridge (keeps them fresh!), and let the kids help themselves when they need a snack.
6. Go with salad. Making a big raw salad is much quicker than any other side dish you can possibly think of! And if you have some leftover protein, voila, there’s a quick dinner!
7. Plan ahead. This would arguably be the number one shortcut when it comes to getting dinner under control. Planning your meals for the week puts you in complete control of the dinner table. We created the original meal-planning service on the Internet with our Menu- Mailer. We provide you with a menu for the week, along with recipes and shopping lists! Thousands of people are currently hooked on this service.
By: Leanne Ely
It seems like the more you do to feed your family properly, the harder it is to keep the grocery budget in check.
Using the crock cooker is a great way to stretch a dollar for several reasons.
• You can use tougher, less expensive cuts of meat
• Traditional crock cooker meals like chili and soup tend to go a long way
• The convenience of this appliance saves you from spending money on take out
• Crock cookers use less electricity than stoves
Today, I’m going to share some tips with you to help you save even more money with this beloved kitchen appliance.
Make your own stock. If you know me at all, you know I’m pretty big on making stock. With a slow cooker, you shouldn’t ever have to buy canned or boxed broth again. Simply save up bones (I keep one zipper bag for chicken bones and one for beef), trimmings and juices from your roasts and freeze them until you have enough to fill your crock pot about half full. When you have enough, put them in the crock pot, fill the crock 3/4 full with water and let it cook on LOW for 8 hours or so. Then, you can use this homemade broth in your crock cooker recipes and for other uses.
Cook more than you need. Buy a very large, inexpensive chuck roast. Even if it’s much more than your family needs—as long as it will fit in your crock pot, bring it home with you. Put it in the crock pot, fill the crock cooker half way with water (which I would do only for cheap cuts of meat), and let it cook on LOW for 8 hours. Portion the meat and use it throughout the week in lunches and dinners. You can even freeze some of the meat to take out later in the month.
Buy from the Clean 15 list. Even if you make an effort to buy organic whenever possible, you can save a little bit of money on your grocery bill. Use crock cooker recipes that call for ingredients from the Clean 15 instead of the Dirty Dozen list so you can buy the less expensive, conventionally grown option over organic. (You can learn more about the Clean 15 at ewg.org by the way.) Many Clean 15 items are great for slow cooking, including onions, sweet potatoes and cabbage.
If you’re coming up short on crock cooker meal inspiration, are you in luck!
We have a great promo going on right now on our Crock Cooker Classic and Paleo Menus. Find out more here!
By: Leanne Ely
I couldn’t function without my slow cooker. You all know by now how I feel about this wonderful, time-saving appliance. If you’re new to slow cooking, or even if you’re a seasoned pro, there are some safety precautions that I hope you’re taking when it comes to this highly efficient way of getting a meal on the table.
Please don’t put another meal in the slow cooker without checking over this list of 7 safety guide-lines:
1. Thaw meat and poultry before placing in the slow cooker. Frozen meats may not reach the safe zone (140 degrees) fast enough and could end up making you sick.
2. Never use the warm setting to cook food. That setting is for when your meal is already cooked, to keep it warm.
3. Preheat the slow cooker on high before you put your meat or poultry inside. This will shorten the amount of time foods spend in the danger zone, before reaching 140 degrees.
4. Don’t use the slow cooker to thaw or reheat foods.
5. While your foods are cooking, do not lift the lid. Every time you open the slow cooker, the tem-perature drops 10–15 degrees and your cooking progress will be slowed by 30 minutes.
6. Check your cooked foods with a thermometer to ensure they are cooked thoroughly. Poultry, soups, stews and sauces should be at 165, while roasts are okay at 145–160.
7. Don’t use the slow cooker to cool down cooked food. Remove food from the crock and then let it cool before placing in the refrigerator.